Moving is tough on the entire family. With all of the adjustments it requires, I think it is hardest on our children and pets. Here are some suggestions to ease your children into the idea of moving:
Talk, talk and more talk
Be open and discuss the possibility of a move as soon as possible (I know the military does not always give you the luxury of time for an adjustment period). No matter where you are off to, it is essential you maintain a positive attitude toward your move for the sake of your children. They will look to you as support during this time of transition and your excitement for a new adventure will be contagious and will ease the change for your children.
Make a list of your child’s fears and concerns about moving (i.e., I won’t have any friends; I’m nervous about going to a new school) and address them individually. While you can’t take the scary factor out of starting at a new school, you can do little things that will make the transition easier. For example, making sure they have a new outfit they love to wear the first day, a special new notebook that their friends signed before moving, etc.
Set up a communication plan with the friends being left behind. Have the kids pre-address envelopes with stamps with their friends’ addresses and encourage them to share their new experiences as pen pals. If snail mail is too old fashioned for your kids, set up a group email chain with their friends (with parental approval) or a private Facebook group, where they can easily chat back and forth. It will also help to get them involved in moving activities. This includes going through their belongings! Incentivize purging by letting your children keep the money they make from their items at a garage sale, or allow them to donate their old toys or clothes to the charity of their choice.
Let them help you pick out a new home. Show them online housing listings, talk about the schools and new activities that your next duty station will offer. Try to truly give them a choice in making decisions as you are learning all there is to do in your new area. Emphasize the activities your child can get involved in at your new duty station. Does your child like basketball? Find a club team they can join. The more you learn and share about the area that your child will enjoy, the more they can begin to look forward to the move.
Above all, don’t forget to try to maintain a positive attitude. During these times of transition, a parent’s demeanor can have a profound effect on kids who will be looking to you for reassurance.